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Kent County, Michigan
Kent County Courthouse, Grand Rapids, MI.jpg
Kent County Courthouse
Seal of Kent County, Michigan
Map of Michigan highlighting Kent County
Location in the state of Michigan
Map of the U.S. highlighting Michigan
Michigan's location in the U.S.
Founded March 2, 1831[1]
Named for James Kent
Seat Grand Rapids
Largest city Grand Rapids
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

872.18 sq mi (2,259 km²)
856.17 sq mi (2,217 km²)
16.01 sq mi (41 km²), 1.84%
 - (2012)
 - Density

711/sq mi (274.7/km²)
Congressional districts 2nd, 3rd
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Kent County is a county in the U.S. state of Michigan. As of the 2010 census, the county had a population of 602,622.[2] Its county seat is Grand Rapids.[3] The county was set off in 1831, and organized in 1836.[1] It is named for New York jurist and legal scholar James Kent,[4] who represented the Michigan Territory in its dispute with Ohio over the Toledo Strip.

Kent County is included in the Grand Rapids–Wyoming Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Kent County is the economic and manufacturing center of West Michigan, with the Steelcase corporation based in the county. It is also the home of the Frederik Meijer Gardens, a significant cultural landmark of the Midwest. The county is a traditional stronghold for the Republican Party, with a substantial conservative population, although the 2008 Presidential Election marked the first time since 1964 a Democratic Presidential candidate received more votes than his Republican opponent. The Gerald R. Ford International Airport is located within the county.

History[edit | edit source]

The Grand River runs through the county. On its west bank are burial mounds, remnants of the Hopewell Indians who once lived there.[5] The valley of the river served as an important center for the fur trade in the early 19th century. After the War of 1812, Rix Robinson and Louis Campau were the earliest traders in the area.[6]

In 1831, it was set off from Kalamazoo County.[7] In 1838, Grand Rapids incorporated as the county's first village. By the end of the century, stimulated by the construction of several sawmills, the area was a significant center for agriculture, logging, and manufacturing furniture.

Demographics[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1840 2,587
1850 12,016 364.5%
1860 30,716 155.6%
1870 50,403 64.1%
1880 73,253 45.3%
1890 109,922 50.1%
1900 129,714 18.0%
1910 159,145 22.7%
1920 183,041 15.0%
1930 240,511 31.4%
1940 246,338 2.4%
1950 288,292 17.0%
1960 363,187 26.0%
1970 411,044 13.2%
1980 444,506 8.1%
1990 500,631 12.6%
2000 574,335 14.7%
2010 602,622 4.9%
Est. 2013 621,700 8.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]
2012 Estimate[9]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 602,622 people residing in the county. 79.9% were White, 9.7% Black or African American, 2.3% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 4.5% of some other race and 3.0% of two or more races. 9.7% were Hispanic or Latino (of any race). 16.7% were of Dutch, 14.6% German, 7.0% Irish, 6.8% English and 6.3% Polish ancestry.[10]

The Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids

As of the census[11] of 2000, there were 574,335 people, 212,890 households, and 144,126 families residing in the county. The current estimated population is 604,323. The population density was 671 people per square mile (259/km²). There were 224,000 housing units at an average density of 262 per square mile (101/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 83.13% White, 8.93% Black or African American, 0.52% Native American, 1.86% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 3.34% from other races, and 2.16% from two or more races. 7.00% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 19.6% reported being of Dutch ancestry; 14.9% German, 7.6% English, 7.4% Irish, 7.1% Polish and 5.5% American ancestry according to the 2000 census. 90.0% spoke only English at home, while 6.0% spoke Spanish.

There were 212,890 households out of which 35.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.30% were married couples living together, 11.60% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.30% were non-families. 25.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 3.20.

The age distribution of the county was as follows:28.30% were under the age of 18, 10.50% from 18 to 24, 31.20% from 25 to 44, 19.70% from 45 to 64, and 10.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 96.90 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $45,980, and the median income for a family was $54,770. Males had a median income of $39,878 versus $27,364 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,629. 8.90% of the population and 6.30% of families were below the poverty line. 10.20% of the population under the age of 18 and 7.50% of those 65 or older were living in poverty.

Geography[edit | edit source]

Long Lake Park, in Solon Township

According to the 2000 census, the county has a total area of 872.18 square miles (2,258.9 km2), of which 856.17 square miles (2,217.5 km2) (or 98.16%) is land and 16.01 square miles (41.5 km2) (or 1.84%) is water.[12] The highest point in Kent County is Fisk Knob Park,[13] in Solon Township, at 1048 feet.[14]

Rivers[edit | edit source]

The Grand River flows through the county from its eastern border to the west, and after passing through Ottawa County, empties into Lake Michigan at Grand Haven. It has three tributaries in Kent County, listed in order of convergence:

Trails[edit | edit source]

These hiking and biking trails run through the county:

Adjacent counties[edit | edit source]

A farm in Alpine Township

Transportation[edit | edit source]

Air service[edit | edit source]

  • Commercial air service to Grand Rapids is provided by Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR). Previously named Kent County International Airport, it holds Grand Rapids' mark in modern history with the United States' first regularly scheduled airline service, beginning July 31, 1926, between Grand Rapids and Detroit.

Bus service[edit | edit source]

  • Public bus transportation is provided by the Interurban Transit Partnership, which brands itself as "The Rapid." Transportation is also provided by the DASH buses: the "Downtown Area Shuttle." These provide transportation to and from the parking lots in the city of Grand Rapids to various designated loading and unloading spots around the city.

Railroad[edit | edit source]

Highways[edit | edit source]

County-Designated Highways[edit | edit source]

Major businesses[edit | edit source]

These corporations are headquartered in Kent County, in the following communities:

Government[edit | edit source]

The county government operates the jail, maintains rural roads, operates the major local courts, keeps files of deeds and mortgages, maintains vital records, administers public health regulations, and participates with the state in the provision of welfare and other social services. The county board of commissioners controls the budget but has only limited authority to make laws or ordinances. In Michigan, most local government functions—police and fire, building and zoning, tax assessment, street maintenance, etc.—are the responsibility of individual cities and townships.

Kent County elected officials[edit | edit source]

(information as of post-2008 election)

Politics[edit | edit source]

Kent County has historically been a stronghold of the Republican Party, and usually supports its candidates for local and federal office. In 2008, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama narrowly carried the county, receiving 149,909 votes (49.34% of the total) to Republican John McCain's 148,336 (48.83%).[15] In contrast, Obama received 57.4% of the vote statewide.

In 2004, Republican president George W. Bush received 171,201 votes (58.85%) to Democrat John Kerry's 116,909 (40.19%).[16]

In 2000, Bush received 148,602 votes (59.37%) to Democrat Al Gore's 95,442 (38.13%).[17]

Cities, villages, and townships[edit | edit source]

A Public Land Survey System survey of Kent County in 1885, showing 24 named townships and sectional subdivisions


(* denotes Charter status)

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ a b "Bibliography on Kent County". Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University. Retrieved January 19, 2013. 
  2. ^ "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 28, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off.. pp. 173. 
  5. ^ Beld, Gordon G. (2012). Grand Times in Grand Rapids: Pieces of Furniture City History, pp. 17-19. The History Press.
  6. ^ Fuller, George Newman (1916). Economic and Social Beginnings of Michigan, p. 423. Wynkoop Hallenbeck Crawford Co.
  7. ^ Purkey, Thomas H. (1986). Soil Survey of Kent County, Michigan, p. 2. United States Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service.
  8. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved March 17, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012". Retrieved March 17, 2013. 
  10. ^ "American FactFinder"
  11. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  12. ^ "Census 2010 Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 2, 2013. 
  13. ^ Fisk Knob, Grand Valley State University - Kent County Parks
  14. ^ Highest Point in Kent County, Google Earth/Maps
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^

External links[edit | edit source]

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Coordinates: 43°02′N 85°33′W / 43.03, -85.55

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